sat 18/05/2024

CD: Sonzeira - Brasil Bam Bam Bam | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Sonzeira - Brasil Bam Bam Bam

CD: Sonzeira - Brasil Bam Bam Bam

Gilles Peterson's Brazilian ensemble offers a serious yet seductive tour of the scene

Sonzeira hits home with 'Brasil Bam Bam Bam'

Gilles Peterson has been a fan of Brazilian music since a furtive teenage liaison with pirate radio. Now, very much at the other end of the radio wave, and after many decades’ advocacy of Brazilian music, he’s created Sonzeira, a collaborative band featuring his pick of the contemporary scene. This is no bossa nostalgia: the concept’s serious and football-free; the artists are little known outside Brazil; and the recording is cleanly, neutrally rendered. 

Even the traditional repertoire sounds new. Vasconcelos’ opening, a solo drum track, celebrates the centrality of rhythm to the Brazilian tradition with masterly control of the drums’ liquid resonance, while the voiceover narration, explaining the African origin of the rhythm, hints at a subtly educational purpose. Elza Soares, a samba veteran much loved in Brazil but little known elsewhere, sings the iconic “Aquarela do Brazil” (apparently for the first time on record) with a tone as scorched and sensual as the Carnaval sun, her crackling voice soothed by the swooning string accompaniment. 

But modern Brazil can also do electronic sounds: “Sambaio” combines Seu Jorge’s rousing Carnaval chant with a snapping dance beat, while Emanuelle Araujo, on “Southern Freeez”, wafts a liquid vocal line over a backing rhythm that’s part Brazilian and part slick pop. At the end of the disc, Jorge’s rhythmic chanting set against the polyrhythmic backing yelps on “Bam Bam Bam” winds the mood up, while the last track, “City of Saints”, mops the brow with soft-plucked guitar over Lucas Santtana’s grainy lilt and Nina Miranda’s fey flirtation. 

It’s as comprehensive a portrait as one album could ever paint. And it’s important: despite a few Mirandas and Jobims, the Brazilian version of the fusion of African, slave-imported folk tradition and European genres - the origin of so much twentieth-century popular music - is still less thoroughly known than the North American. Listen, learn, love.  

Elza Soares sings the iconic “Aquarela do Brazil” with a tone as scorched and sensual as the Carnaval sun


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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